eSubmission Items of Interest
NIH eRA eSubmission Items of Interest - February 11, 2011
Agency & Applicant Preparedness Pays Off
Well, we all made it through the first major R01 deadline since the discontinuation of the “error correction window” (NOT-OD-10-123). Systems received applications without any service interruptions. In most cases, applicants were able to check for errors/warnings and view their application images within hours of submitting. Help desks were busy, but managed the call volume.
Most importantly, you were prepared for the change. You started submitting a bit earlier, though not as much as we expected. I’m not sure this deadline is the best sample given the bad weather across much of the country just before the deadline, so we’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and won’t nag you about the importance of submitting early. Most of you managed to avoid errors altogether – a perfect strategy for dealing with this process change - with an impressive 83% of applications submitted error-free on the first submission attempt and 98% within two submission attempts. Kudos!
Am I done yet?
One interesting consequence of the elimination of the error correction window is that there is less of a delay between when applicants submit their application and when they go to their eRA Commons accounts to check status. It does take some time for an application to work its way through Grants.gov and eRA systems. It is not as obvious as we’d like to determine in eRA Commons when an application is still processing and has not yet provided a final list of errors/warnings or an assembled application image and we’ve identified a few changes we can make to improve. Our answer to the “Am I done yet?” question remains simple – you are done when you can view an assembled application image in eRA Commons. If you can’t VIEW it, we can’t REVIEW it!
Reminder for K, F, T & D Applicants – Use the new B1 Forms Now
A few applicants submitting for Monday’s Research Career Development deadline have been “Rejected with Errors” at Grants.gov with a package closed message after attempting to use the ADOBE-FORMS-B forms for their submissions. This is expected behavior, though the Grants.gov message returned is a bit misleading (indicates the opportunity and not just a specific application package is closed).
All Career Development (K), Fellowship (F) and Training (T & D) applications must now be submitted on the ADOBE-FORMS-B1 forms (NOT-OD-11-008). These programs are explicit exceptions to the transition period in which both B and B1 forms are allowed through May 7 for other programs (NOT-OD-11-007). No concessions will be made for applicants that submit late because they used the wrong forms.
Who put the techno-babble in my error message?
Have you ever gone into eRA Commons to check the status of your application only to find it says “System Error Occurred” followed by a bunch of techno-babble? Thankfully it doesn’t happen very often (we’ve translated most errors into actual English), but it can be very disconcerting when it does. Only a few, brave souls actually know how to decipher the text spewed across your screen. Most of us need a translator.
One thing is clear – you encountered a “System Issue.” Following the Guidelines for Applicants Experiencing System Issues and contacting the eRA Commons Help Desk is definitely in order.
Now, back to those techno-babble translators…we have an eRA eSubmission Production Support team that actually receives an hourly report of any processing anomalies, including applications that encountered system errors that interrupted application processing. In some cases, we can simply reprocess your application with no action needed from you. The standard email notifications are sent and your status will change to display any remaining errors/warnings in your application (with useful English messages) and/or your assembled application image. In other cases, the system error is specific to the contents of the application and the team must identify the root cause of the problem and provide instructions for correction. The eRA eSubmission Production Support team is also responsible for fixing our systems to gracefully handle the scenarios that lead to these ugly system errors.
I’m often asked, “Should I just submit again if I encounter a submission issue and see if the second submission goes through?” Sometimes submitting again helps, sometimes it has no effect (problem is related to application content which hasn’t changed between submission attempts), and sometimes submitting again causes problems (undoes corrections we are trying to make on your behalf). Since you can’t really tell which camp your issue falls in, it is best to wait for advice from the help desk. Remember, as long as you report the issue and quickly follow any help desk instructions for correction, we will work with you to address the system issue through to resolution even if your corrective submission falls after the deadline. So, take a deep breath, notify the help desk of the issue and give us a little time to clear the error or provide advice for correction. If you have not heard back from the help desk in a business day, then please follow-up with the help desk again. If, despite your diligence, you are unable to obtain a resolution working with the help desk staff, you are welcome to escalate by sending an email to email@example.com.
Thought for the Day
It was all so different before everything changed. –Ashleigh Brilliant
Sheri Cummins & Scarlett Gibb
Customer Relationship Managers
eRA External Services – eSubmission & Commons
NIH Office of Extramural Research